International Investing: Kenya

Economic Overview: Kenya is the regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa. Agricultural output was reduced by a severe drought in 1999 and 2000, and recovery has been limited by widespread governmental corruption and by low prices for several primary exports. The International Monetary Fund has repeatedly suspended loans to Kenya (in 1997, 2001, and 2006) because of corruption, but GDP grew more than 5 percent in 2006.

The opposition political party is given a good chance of winning elections scheduled for December, a prospect that worries some investors.

What to Watch: East Africa's bustling metropolis Nairobi is home to 3 million people. And with 6.5 percent annual GDP growth, the Kenyan capital represents the potential — and the difficulties — of a rapidly-developing economy.

In the shadow of the city — the country's famous wildlife roams free just kilometers from the city center. But the booming economy may threaten their future.

While the growth is seen as good thing, Kenya is focused on safeguarding the environment. Tourism is Kenya's No. 1 foreign exchange earner. Kenyans are rightly proud of their natural heritage, but that won't stop them pushing the economy forward. The challenge will be to do it without damaging the country’s greatest asset of all.


Population 30.7 million 35.1 million
GNI Atlas method (current US$) 13.2 billion 20.5 billion
GNI per capita Atlas method (current US$) 430.0 580.0
GDP (current US$) 12.7 billion 21.2 billion
GDP growth (annual %) 0.6 5.7
Inflation GDP deflator (annual%) 6.1 -0.4
Agriculture value added (% of GDP) 32.4 27.9
Industry value added (% of GDP) 16.9 17.4
Services etc. value added (% of GDP) 50.7 54.8
Exports of goods and services (% of GDP) 21.6 24.3
Imports of goods and services (% of GDP) 29.6 33.3
Gross capital formation (% of GDP) 17.4 17.1
Revenue excluding grants (% of GDP) 19.7 N/A
Cash surplus/deficit (% of GDP) 2.0 N/A
States and Markets
Time required to start a business (days) N/A 54.0
Market capitalization of listed companies (% of GDP) 10.1 53.7
Military expenditure (% of GDP) 1.3 N/A
Fixed line and mobile phone subscribers (per 1 000 people) 13.7 N/A
Internet users (per 1 000 people) 3.3 N/A
Roads paved (% of total roads) 12.1 N/A
High-technology exports (% of manufactured exports) 3.9 N/A
Global Links
Merchandise trade (% of GDP) 38.1 50.8
Net barter terms of trade (2000 = 100) 100.0 N/A
Foreign direct investment net inflows (BoP current US$) 110.9 million N/A
Long-term debt (DOD current US$) 5.2 billion N/A
Total debt service (% of exports of goods services and income) 20.9 N/A
Official development assistance and official aid (current US$) 509.9 million N/A
Workers' remittances and compensation of employees received (US$) 537.9 million 524.0 million
Source: World Development Indicators database, April 2007